Are You Earthquake Prepared?

Understanding Earthquakes: A Social Studies and Science Lesson

We were able to combine several themes into one lesson with this activity. In social studies, we are learning about California geography and key influencers of California geography are the San Andreas fault and earthquakes. Our social skills curriculum focus for this month is cooperation. In science, we are learning how hypothesizing and experimentation is important. We incorporated all three into this activity. Students built structures out of blocks in such a way to withstand a mock earthquake. The kids measured their structures and timed the earthquakes.

Materials Needed:

  • Recycled/repurposed old binders whose clips no longer align – we just cut them off and used the covers (only works if the rings are attached to the spine as opposed to the back cover) 
  • Rubber bands
  • Ping pong balls (from the dollar store)

State Standards in this Lesson:

Fourth Grade History/Social Science – 

4.1 Students demonstrate an understanding of the physical and human geographic features that define places and regions in California.

Fourth Grade Science

5. Waves, wind, water, and ice shape and reshape Earth’s land surface. As a basis for understanding this concept:

  • 5.a. Students know some changes in the earth are due to slow processes, such as erosion, and some changes are due to rapid processes, such as landslides, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes.


6. Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and addressing the content in the other three strands, students will:

  • 6.d. Conduct multiple trials to test a prediction and draw conclusions about the relationships between predictions and results
  • 6.f. Follow a set of written instructions for a scientific investigation.